What Minimalism Isn’t (to me)

It’s been about a year now since I began my minimalist journey– or rather, my wannabe-minimalist journey. I’ve gotten rid of a lot of stuff, mostly clothes, and I’ve reworked a lot of my schedule to reflect a more simplified … Continue reading

“So what do you do?”: on work, Millennials, and identity

identity

It’s been well over a year now. I haven’t been a CPS teacher since June of 2015. It seems almost impossible, when I think of that young idealistic teacher setting her sights on her newly decorated classroom, nervously awaiting the first wave of Freshman to enter in and take their seats.

That girl was going to change the world. Despite all odds, she was going to stick with it and be strong. This was what she was made to do.

… Okay, so maybe I never really felt like that. But that’s what you think you feel when you’re a newly graduated education major about to become educator. You just assume that stereo-typical, overly-idealistic, “Freedom-Writers“-esque attitude that may or may not be around at the end of the first semester. You just do. Because, if you don’t, it is way too easy to admit that you’re discouraged already and are hoping and praying no one notices that you have no idea what you’re doing. And also because, every other young new-hire in urban education acts like they feel this way, so, I mean, what real choice do you have? So you convince yourself that you are going to change the world, one student at a time, and you put on your game face and you assume this attitude as who you are.

What a mistake I made in doing this. 

Because three years later, when I find myself utterly hating my job and myself, and feeling completely ineffective and drained, I decide it’s time for teaching and me to part ways. Yes, it’s only been three years. But I’ve been in romantic relationships for less time than that before I realized it wasn’t meant to be either. So, there.

But now that I am no longer Hilary Swank, the dedicated teacher who is willing to give up her entire personal life in order to reach the “unteachable”, who am I? And why did I place my identity in such a fragile place as a 22-year-old hoping for the best in a toxic work environment with little to no resources or support?

I don’t think I am alone in this. I hope not. Because then this blog post is solely for my own benefit, which I guess is fine…

The Millennial generation, of which I am a part of, often gets a bad rap for being socially inept, obscenely selfish, and unable to hold down a job for more than a few years, much less have a successful longstanding career. Now, believe me, I could write an entire blog post on why I think this reputation has come about, and my response to it, but I’ll save that for another time.

I will say though, that after being laid off every single year I worked as a public school teacher, I was only able to successfully be rehired each time (sometimes the only rehire in the entire school), by working long hours, volunteering to lead professional development, obtaining outstanding evaluations, and sufficiently increasing my student’s test scores. I was able to successfully make myself invaluable to my Principal and co-workers, and I hardly think I could have been rehired each year without some level of social skills, strong work ethic, and an inexhaustible desire to keep my position. Just sayin’.

But the reason I mention the whole Millennial thing is because I think this reputation (specifically about the job/career piece) stems more from the changing times than from a character flaw spreading across the entire generation–which oddly includes 19-year-olds all the way to 39-year-olds.

According to the most recent available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average worker today will stay at one job for an average of only 4.4 years. And according to a recent survey of 1,189 employees and 150 managers, 91% of Millennials (born between 1977-1997) expect to stay in a job for even less than that: three years. This means that most men and women of this age group will have 15 – 20 jobs over the course of their entire working lives. But this is due more to things like an unstable economy and technology replacing workers than to an entire generation of fickle people who can’t make up their mind about what they want to do with their lives… which is sort of how I feel, but which I don’t think is the norm.

This intrigues me for a number of reasons:

  • 1.) I have found that many people’s response to my 3-year “career” as a teacher is mixed. Upon examination of the different reactions, many people within my generational age group (20-something Millennials), seem to totally get it, while the majority of retired people (of the Baby Boomer generation) seem to view my short-lived career as puzzling, even if they act extremely polite about it all.
  • 2.) I have always been told that job instability on a resume could cost one a future job. From what I understand, “chronic job-hoppers” are often screened out, and recruiters instead seek prospective employees who seem to offer longevity.
  • 3.) From my limited experience, and from a bit of research, the average person gains a sense of identity from their work. The question we almost always ask a new acquaintance at a party is “so what do you do?”, meaning not “what hobbies do you have that make you happy?”, or”what do you like to do for fun?”, or even “what is your mission in life?”. No, this question invariably means “what is your job?”, which places a lot of importance on what we choose to do to make a living, rather than how we choose to live. I find this interesting coming from a generation that will ultimately answer this question of “what do you do?”, 15-20 different ways throughout their working life.

Okay so, that’s the end of the statistics and research part of this post. Back to the point.

I have been mulling over this whole  “identity thing” for a while now– really, ever since I quit my job last year. What are the elements that go into shaping who we are, and how is who we are perceived differently by different people, and do those different perceptions impact our identity?

As a Christian, I often remind myself that my identity is in Christ. However, I believe that God made each of His children to have unique characteristics and purpose, despite our commonality of contentment with our lives through His will. I know that I personally have discovered more of my true identity as I draw nearer to God, which I have done quite a lot since last year. So, although I know that my mission is the same as other Christ-followers in helping to bring God’s Kingdom here on earth, I know that God has equipped me to do this in a way that is true to my identity, and which will not be the same as every other Christian.

As a Millennial who has accepted the fact that job-hopping is probably unavoidably in my future, I am seeking ways to define myself verbally to others so that more of myself is revealed rather than simply what my job happens to be at that particular time. I know I am viewed differently now that I do no answer the question “so, what do you do?” with “I’m a High School teacher in the inner city”, although I do not think the core of who I truly am has changed much at all. How one makes money at a particular season in life, is not always an accurate reflection on who they are.

All this is rather complicated. And I find that it is made further complex by this new season in life that I now find myself approaching currently.

You see, I found out in June that I am pregnant. And since then I have had this vacillating sense of what this means about my identity, as if the other stuff wasn’t enough to think about.

Don’t get me wrong! I am extremely happy and utterly ecstatic about this news! The baby was planned, and my husband and I are over-the-moon-excited. This is what we want. And yet, it’s difficult to imagine, or rather, realize, that my identity is now shifting due to another living being occupying my body. Already, this little creature is impacting who I am–what I eat, what I (don’t) drink, how often I eat, sleep, and pee, and what limitations my body has, even down to what positions I can comfortably sleep! These things are also not who I am, but I’m sure they effect other’s perception of me, and I know I personally am starting to see myself differently: as not simply a woman or even a wife, but as a mother.

Side note: this is totally the first time we will be sharing this news publicly online (for those that actually read this far), so please forgive the lack of cute announcement photos or “bump pics”– that’s just not our thing.

Upon reflection of the loss of my “career” as a teacher, the realization that my elder Baby Boomer friends and relatives  probably won’t fully understand the generation I was born into, and this growing child inside me, slowly becoming more and more a reality that impacts the way I do life, I guess the question I am really wrestling with is this: how do I apply a minimalist ideology to my ever-shifting and complex identity?

We live in a world where who we are is presented in so many public ways. To some extent, we can even control the public perception of ourselves by way of facebook, linkedin, “about me” sections in blogs, and other social media outlets. And sometimes these things do truly reflect our true selves. But I believe it also over-simplifies our identity. Which makes me wonder if having a minimalist approach to defining my identity is even realistic or possible.

Perhaps this continuous exploring, changing, and figuring out of one’s identity is simply a part of our work as people living in a complex and changing world. Perhaps finding our calling is more about finding the common thread in our motivation for life rather than what our work entails in the moment–public school teacher, fitness instructor, or stay-at-home-mom. Perhaps it’s less about saying nice phrases like, “my identity is in Jesus” and more about figuring out how God made us, so we can understand what that truly looks like in real life.

So when someone asks me that question, “so, what do you do?”, I think I’ll respond with something, well, not so minimal. Something like,

What do I do? I wake up every morning praying that I can figure out who I am so that I can live the way I will be most successful at bringing knowledge of Jesus Christ into people’s hearts. I try to eat healthy so that my baby can grow strong and develop good eyesight and a taste for a variety of foods, while at the same time, making sure I don’t throw up at Praise Dance rehearsal. I blog, but not as often as I would like, because I’m trying to balance sleeping 8-9 hours a day and helping my husband with his career, which often means hardcore napping, but also filming random auditions or promo videos at moment’s notice, or faxing in music contracts or mailing out posters in time for upcoming shows. I thought I was going to be a teacher for my whole life, but now I’m content with teaching fitness classes and preparing to be a stay-at-home mom in the not-so-distant future, and maybe homeschooling our kids–who knows!? I hang out at Starbucks and work on my book, I make color-coded lists and meal plans in my passion planner, I do my BSF lesson every morning, I go to MOPS on Tuesday mornings, and recently I started swimming laps since I can’t run while I’m pregnant. I do a lot of stuff, actually, and hopefully some of those things will give you an idea about who I am. But mostly, I just hope that you can be courageous enough to know that your identity is not always defined by what you do, especially what you do for a living, because it’s taken me a while to come to this conclusion, and I’m still shedding so much of who I thought I was in order to see who I truly am. 

But…that’s not really my initial idea of a “minimalist answer”. However, I do think it’s probably more genuine in reflecting my thoughts and feelings towards the question. And who knows? Maybe it will let people know what I actually do.

That was the question in the first place, right?

5 Ways to be a Minimalist on your Smartphone

Today’s technology is incredible. We can communicate so easily and share ideas, photos, videos, and art with countless people via the internet, social media, or even just email or text messaging. That said, our smartphones can be powerful tools in … Continue reading

Make Over Your Mornings: Before Bed Ritual

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Photo Credit: sucess.com

Making the most of your mornings starts the night before.  I recently shared this on my facebook page after I had just finalized my morning prep before going to sleep.

First of all, we need to know why it’s important to make the most of our mornings.

In “What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast”, Laura Vanderkam explains that mornings kick-start the rest of our day. How we spend our mornings usually set us up for great productivity during our day, or a poor use of time and resources. If we roll out of bed after hitting the snooze button ten times, trudge into the kitchen to find it’s a mess from the night before, and then glance at the clock, realizing we only have 30 minutes before we have to be clocked in at the office…. chances are we are starting the day off hurried, frazzled, and without a clear direction.

But, if we make the most of our mornings, we can use that time to do the things that energize us, invigorate us, and help us have a positive attitude before we begin to interact with the rest of the world.

But before we get into how to make the most of our mornings, we need to realize that it starts before we even wake up.

I suppose I always knew this, but I really started putting into practice when I took Crystal Paine’s Make Over Your Mornings e-course last summer. I learned a lot of valuable tools from this 14-day course, but this one lesson was a game-changer.

I began using a “before bed ritual” as a way to mentally envision a productive morning, foreseeing little preparations that could set me up for success when my feet hit the floor in the am.

Here is my Before Bed Ritual that helps me have a successful morning:

Turn off phone. Studies have shown that screen time right before bed can keep you up longer, causing you to sleep in longer than intended when that alarm clock goes off the next morning. For me, this is the case. I actually keep my phone in another room entirely and use a traditional alarm clock near my bed so I am not tempted to surf the web while lying in bed.

Tidy the house, do the dishes, and wipe down counters. It stresses me out to wake up to a mess in the kitchen, and it makes it harder for me to prep my coffee and breakfast when the sink is full of dirty dishes. Having a clean kitchen, and even prepping the coffee before bed helps my mornings go smoothly the next day.

Brush teeth, wash face, and wipe down sink in bathroom. Multitasking is great in this area! While I’m in the bathroom getting ready for bed, I can swish some mouthwash and wipe down the sink/toilet/counter so it’s clean for tomorrow. This helps me maintain a semi-clean bathroom for a majority of the time, even when I don’t deep-clean.

Lay out clothes appropriate for the first task of the morning. Depending on the day, I am doing different things during the wee hours of the morning. Sometimes it’s jumping to work right after my quiet time. Other times is going out for a run or heading to the gym. Depending on my task at hand, I’ll set out nice clothes that will help me get into work mode, outdoor gear if I’m braving the weather outside for a jog, or some gym attire if I’m heading there. I prefer this to just getting up and starting the day in my pajamas. I find I am much more productive if I dress for the occasion, and picking out clothes the night before saves me time and helps me avoid making a decision when I’m not yet fully awake. If you find yourself having issues picking out your clothes even the night before, you wardrobe might be too expansive. Here’s some inspiration to practice minimalism in this area of your life!

Look over or make the next day’s to-do list. Most of the time the list is already written in my planner, but going over it before bed helps me anticipate the next day and get excited to accomplish my goals. Also, I can sleep better because I know when everything will get done; I don’t have to fret about when I’ll have time for such and such. I already know.

If I have time, read before hitting the lights. This is usually something enjoyable; it’s not usually the time for a heady informative book. Just some light reading to relax my brain and get ready for sleep. Here’s the book I’m currently reading: a classic minimalist choice!

The times of all of these little rituals change and shift based on when I need to get up in the morning and what time I get home from work or an evening event. But this is the general order I usually do things in so that I can be set up for a successful morning.

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Photo Credit: mintful.com

Now it’s your turn! What things do you need to do in order to have a stress-free and productive morning?  

Here are some points and questions to consider:

1.) This is the most important: Make sure to schedule in enough sleep. You can’t have a successful morning if you are falling asleep in your cereal. Personally, I like to get 8 hours of sleep; this doesn’t always happen, but it’s what I shoot for. If you have a fitbit or another activity monitor, you can track the quality your sleep. But over all, you need to go to bed on time.

2.) What stresses you out in the morning? For me, it’s a sink full of dirty dishes or a filthy bathroom mirror. For you it might be your pet’s feeding, or laundry on the bedroom floor. Whatever it is, try to incoorperate getting rid of these stressors before bed so you don’t have to deal with them in the morning.

3.) What can you do before bed so that you can save time in the morning for something more enjoyable? If you hate preparing breakfast, set up the crockpot with apple cinnamon oatmeal the night before, or make a batch of freezable breakfast burritos and take one out to thaw overnight. If things would go smoothly once you knew what you were going to wear, then pick out your clothes ahead of time like I do. You can even do this for the entire week, setting up outfits on hangers in your closet complete with accessories and shoes! I used to do this when I was a teacher and it saved me so much time in the mornings. You can use this time for something more enjoyable, which brings us to out next point of consideration…

4.) Think about what would make you want to get up in the morning.  I start each of my mornings off with a devotional and prayer time with God. I have a chair in my dining room already prepped with my bible, prayer list, and gratitude journal so I can go right to it as soon as I wake up. But what about you? If you love reading, spend some time in the morning reading something you enjoy. If you love running, then hop on the treadmill first thing in the am. If you like to bake, wake up early and bake something yummy for breakfast. Even if it’s only for 20 minutes, at least you will have made time for something you love and started out your day on a positive note.

Make preparations so that it is easy to go right to this activity, and get rid of any distractions that might take it’s place. For instance, if you want to spend time reading God’s word in the morning, but the kitchen is a mess, you might be tempted to start right in on cleaning it rather than beginning your day in prayer and study. This change of order might totally change the course of your day and your attitude. Do something that is live-giving first thing, and guard that time! It will make you get up out of that bed and be ready to give your best to the rest of the day! 

What are some of the things you can do before bed to make sure you have an amazing morning? I’d love to hear your ideas and input!

 

 

 

 

The Overachiever to the Complete Failure

measure successMeasuring Success isn’s easy, but I’m going to try my best to evaluate month to month by setting goals and evaluating my progress. If you missed out on my November goals, here’s the post. (They are also each listed below).

1.) Complete the 10 Hanger Project by only wearing clothes from a very limited wardrobe for the entire month.

Achieved. I think from my previous posts and one I’ll post this weekend, you can tell I’ve done fairly well with this particular goal. I wore only 10 items of clothing (not counting workout clothes) for the entire month of November. You can read about it here, here, and here.

2.) Be able to do a headstand without a spotter, and a handstand with a spotter by practicing with the #GrowWithTheFloat Yoga Challenge.

Complete Failure. I did not keep up with this challenge at all (on my Instagram account, you can see I only got up to day 6 or something). I didn’t make the time to practice and I think I may have been a little over-ambitious with estimating how quickly it would take me to master inversions. It’s still on my to-do list, but probably not for a monthly goal.

3.) Build upper body strength, hip and spine flexibility, and balance by completing the #BuildYourBird Yoga Challenge.

Complete Failure. I didn’t even do this challenge. Probably because I got discouraged by the first yoga challenge/failure.

4.) Come up with a meal planning system involving freezer cooking, using my crock pot, and strategic budgeting to save time and money in the kitchen.

Overachiever. I was able to do this very well. In October I took the Homemaking Ministries E-Conference and got lots of ideas for how to meal plan and prepare time-consuming dinners ahead of time in order to save time and make things last. I also was able to use this awesome planner to help me in menu planning and grocery shopping more efficiently. The reason I say “OVERachiever” is because I still have muffins, an entire meat loaf, half a lasagna, and a loaf of zuchinni bread in the freezer to have for this month!

5.) Stick to our family’s monthly budget by being wise in spending and planning ahead.

Sort of Achieved. I did go over in some areas due to poor planning on my part (I didn’t plan for entertaining and for Thanksgiving at the end of the month and so I wasn’t sucessful at keeping our grocery budget). But I didn’t spend any money on clothes and I only spent $10 at Starbucks– HUGE victories for this wannabe minimalist/ coffee addict.

6.) Perform a self-choreographed praise dance for my church family.

Achieved. I posted it on my facebook page; you can view it here.

7.) Complete the P90X3 program that I started at the beginning of the fall.

Achieved. This was a beast to get through (90 days is a long time!) but I’m very pleased with my results. I’m at my ideal weight, I can see way more definition in my upper body (something I was lacking before the program), my legs are even more defined, and I lost another inch around my waist. I was a little nervous that I’d loose my running endurance from doing just this program, but I ran 4 miles this morning without any trouble at all. I think Tony did a pretty good job of sneaking in cardio in new ways for this runner! P90X3 is a great at-home workout program if you’re interested in more muscular development and improved agility and strength.

8.) Finalize my bedtime and wakeup routine so that I can make the most of my mornings and get enough sleep.

In Progress… Working evenings as a fitness instructor makes me super wound up at night and I’m having a hard time going to bed at a decent hour. This will probably be an ongoing and developing goal until I figure out what this new routine should look like for this season of life.

9.) Complete my Cycle Certification with FitTour.

Overachiever. Not only did I get my Cycle Certification, but I also got my Advanced Yoga Certification. Maybe that makes up for not doing the yoga challenges?

10.) Find a local CSA to order from to save time and money, and also to be more supportive of local farmers and find ways to make seasonal and healthful cooking a priority for our family.

In Progress… I did find a great place to buy organic meat in bulk, but I am still in search of a CSA for other produce. If you have any suggestions that would work for a Chicagoain, I would apprecaite your comments. BTW, the place I found is called Zaycon Fresh (referral link). They have a particularly amazing deal on organic chicken breast that I plan on taking advantage of very soon!

Well folks, that’s how I did this past month on my goals. I’ll be posting my December goals early next week once I finalize them.

Feel free to share your goals in the comments below— we can all keep one another accountable that way!

The 10 Hanger Project Week Two: On Feelings, Re-Decorating, and Post-It Notes

There are only 2 more weeks left of November. Can you believe it? Who’s ready for Christmas? *raises hand*

I start with this fact because that means I am at the halfway point of my 10 Hanger Project. I originally had set out to go an entire month with only 10 hangers in my closet (and 7 workout items in my dresser). You can read about why I chose to do that here.

Last week I shared with you some of the things I have been learning during the first week of the project as well as some tips for whittling down your wardrobe.

Today I want to talk a little bit about how I’m feeling at this halfway point, and I can probably just sum it up in one word:

(You ready for this? Okay here it is…)

free

giveupSeriously y’all, I have never felt so free!

Free from the love of clothes, free from the countless combinations of what to wear, free from the worry of what others think of my clothes, free from the burden of choices in the morning…

To be honest, I am little anxious for December to come because I know I’ll have to take all of my clothes out of storage and…well, deal with them.

But really, this whole process has been really amazing because it simplifies my life so much.

This past weekend I was thinking about what I could do to encourage my future-self to donate a lot of the clothes I still have in storage. I want to hang on to this simplified kind of style, but I still would like to not have to do laundry multiple times a week. So I came up with a plan:

1.) I got 33 nice wooden hangers super cheap on amazon. (See why I chose 33 here).

2.) I rearranged my entire house (it’s small–don’t be too impressed) so that I no longer have my own dresser anymore, which significantly limits my drawer space.

3.) Posted-noted Hebrews 13:5-6* and 1 Timothy 2:9-11* all over my house (think War Room), and decided to practice the spiritual discipline of memorizing these verses of scripture to remind me to be content, self-controlled, free from the love of possessions, and acquiring an inward adornment rather than an outward one.

*Note: I used a combination of translations with the phrasing that spoke to me the most. Bible scholars, don’t hate– this is what works for me.

That last step is particularly important. I know all scripture to be God-inspired and profitable, and His word tells me that it will never return to Him void— so I know that His Word WILL have an effect on me. I am counting on it to transform my mind so that I do not fall back into the patterns of this world. These scriptures are also applicable to other areas in my life in which I need encouragement, but we’ll stick to the subject at hand for now.

The first two steps will be very helpful as well because they significantly limit the amount of space I have for clothing.

I won’t be able to just put the clothes back exactly where they hung or were folded up before– I’ll have to be choosey about which ones to keep and which ones to give away.

I plan on documenting all of this process when it happens in December, but I have to tell you, I am not exactly looking forward to it. I think it might overwhelm me to see so many clothes that I literally do not need. These two weeks have proven this fact– I do not need them!

things I actually need

I’m half tempted to just dump the entire lot of them and stick to these 10 hangers forever, but I don’t think these clothes I have now will work for when the seasons change or when someone gets married or if I can’t do laundry one week.

Still, I am hoping and praying that these last few weeks of the 10 Hanger Project will motivate me to maintain this detachment to clothes and simplistic approach to my wardrobe.

That is, after all, what this blog is mainly about— simplicity– minimalism– at least wannabe minimalism right?

Thanks again for walking with me through this journey. It’s pretty amazing what one random idea in the middle of the night will turn into over a month-long process.

10 Hanger Project Week One: Baggy Clothes, Fear of Failure, Wardrobe Whittling Tips, and #OOTD

Well, I have officially survived the 10-Hanger Project Week One. If you are unfamiliar with this project, check out my blog post and get all the deets.

I will start by saying that I had to make some minor adjustments to the wardrobe… well, given that it’s only 10 hangers, I guess they would be considered major adjustments, but I think I’ve finally got it figured out now.

See, when I started the project, I chose items I thought I could make great combinations with. The only problem was the timing: I decided to do this right when the seasons were changing, so I chose some items I haven’t worn since last fall.

Well, over the summer I completed the Insanity Max 30 Program with my friend Michelle and we kicked the crap out of it! I lost almost 2 inches around my waist, and I wasn’t even trying to! All I wanted to do was tone up a little and work out with my friend– I had no idea I even HAD 2 inches to loose around the middle! I guess a terrible last year of teaching made me stress-eat and gain some extra pounds that I didn’t realize, or maybe I just toned up more than I thought. Anyway, right after that, I started the P90X 3 program, which I am ALMOST done with (check out my November goals— I’m so close to completing that one!). I haven’t taken measurements, but I’m guessing I lost some flab and toned up with this program as well.

That being said, the skirt and the dress I chose for my 10 Hanger Project did not fit me at all. Check it out:

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***Note to self: try on the clothes before you decide to wear them for 30 days straight.

So, I swapped out and put the baggy clothes in the donation pileIMG_6077.

My new items are on the side ————->

You can see that they are vey similar to the previous ones.

Here are some tips I’ve learned through this process:

1.) Don’t keep clothes that don’t fit. Even if they are just a tad too loose or a tad too tight, you’ll feel uncomfortable every time you wear them, and you should feel great in every item you own.

2.) Do an in-depth closet evaluation at the beginning of each season. This will help you get rid of things that may not work with your style anymore, or things that don’t fit right or have stains, holes, or too much wear. Just because you loved it last fall doesn’t mean it’s salvageable this fall; just because you lived in it last summer doesn’t mean it’ll work for you this summer.

3.) If you have clothes that are very similar, get rid of the ones you like least. There is no use having 5 of the same gray tee shirt or 3 black skirts. Choose the one that is the most flattering, makes you feel the best, or is the most versatile. Donate the rest, especially if they no longer fit (like in my case)!

4.) Don’t be afraid of failure. This isn’t so much a wardrobe tip as it is a life tip. If I was going by my own rules, I would have just stuck it out and worn the clothes that don’t fit me. It honestly made me fearful to share this failure with you because I felt like I was cheating– I didn’t get this project absolutely-positively-perfectly-right.

But the point of this entire 10 Hanger Project is to get rid of my attachment to clothes. There may have been a time when I would have noticed that the dress and the skirt didn’t fit right, but still tried to keep them and make them work because I was attached to them. One of two things would happen: 1.) they would have hung in my closet, never getting worn, or 2.) I would have worn them, and felt awkward and uncomfortable the entire time (I probably would have looked pretty awkward too!).

No, no no. This time, these babies are gettin’ tossed! I failed at picking out the very best 10 items for my project. I failed. It’s okay. Fix it. Be flexible. Move on. Breathe.

And finally, I wanted to share with you some of the outfit combos I came up with this past week (#OOTD):

Not bad right?! See, I don’t need new clothes! In fact, I only need a few. But I’m not going to lie, laundry has been a doozy… Now I know what it feels like to have LITERALLY nothing to wear by the end of the week!

Thanks for tuning in with me as I journey on this minimalist mission this November!

What do you think would be the most challenging thing about whittling your wardrobe down?

November Goals: 10-Hanger Wardrobe, Local Food, Yoga Challenges, and Made-Over Mornings

Each month I will be posting my goals. I’m going to try to be as ambitious as possible while still being realistic and I’m going to try to stick to a max of 10 simple and SMART goals (more than that is probably not realistic). We’ll see how this goes…

Monthly Goals for the Month of November:

1.) Complete the 10 Hanger Project by only wearing clothes from a very limited wardrobe for the entire month.

2.) Be able to do a headstand without a spotter, and a handstand with a spotter by practicing with the #GrowWithTheFloat Yoga Challenge.

3.) Build upper body strength, hip and spine flexibility, and balance by completing the #BuildYourBird Yoga Challenge.

4.) Come up with a meal planning system involving freezer cooking, using my crock pot, and strategic budgeting to save time and money in the kitchen.

5.) Stick to our family’s monthly budget by being wise in spending and planning ahead.

6.) Perform a self-choreographed praise dance for my church family.

7.) Complete the P90X3 program that I started at the beginning of the fall.

8.) Finalize my bedtime and wakeup routine so that I can make the most of my mornings and get enough sleep.

9.) Complete my Cycle Certification with FitTour.

10.) Find a local CSA to order from to save time and money, and also to be more supportive of local farmers and find ways to make seasonal and healthful cooking a priority for our family.

At the end of the month, I’ll check back in with you all to let you know my progress. I’ll be as honest as possible, since I need you all to keep me accountable.

What are some of your goals for the month of November? I’d love to hear about them–Let’s be accountability partners!

The 10 Hanger Project

10 Hanger Project

This November my goal is to simplify in the area of my wardrobe.

Some of you know that I have been known to be a little bit of a fashion addict… or maybe you have no idea. Well confession time: clothes have become an idol for me.

I’m not proud of it and it’s quite embarrassing to share this with the public– I was even embarrassed to share it with my husband (as if he didn’t notice already), and he knows just about everything about me.

Some of you know me well, or perhaps just follow me on Instagram. Either way, you may have noticed my somewhat obvious obsession with clothes and brand names which appeared seemingly out of nowhere (just look at my #OOTD posts and you’ll get an idea).

I want to get into why this happened to me, but I think I’ll save it for another blog post.

For now I’ll just say that the accumulation of more clothing wasn’t doing for me what I wanted it to; it wasn’t making me happy, it wasn’t making me feel better about myself, and it wasn’t making me feel fulfilled. In fact, I found it was the opposite: I was spending too much money on clothes, which stressed me out after I’d see the cumulated amount, and then I’d feel guilty, selfish, and empty inside, wondering why I couldn’t just be content with what I have and stop looking for my worth in material things.

After a long talk with God in the bubble bath (we talk there; it’s cool), it was decided that something must be done.

But how do I curve an addiction that surrounds me everywhere you go? I mean, I don’t live in a nudist colony, so people do wear clothes. How do I kill the idol of clothes wile having a closet full of beautiful ones? Sure I could work on self-control and stop buying more, but buying more was only part of the problem; the accumulation that had already occurred was an equally important role in this addictive stronghold.

We decided to go drastic. I pulled aside 10 hangers from my full closet, then chose 10 items to hang on them.

Hanger 1: thick black and white Aztec printed cardigan sweater

Hanger 2: beige boyfriend blazer

Hanger 3: gray scoop-neck tank top with breast pocket

Hanger 4: black skinny jeans

Hanger 5: navy and white striped oversized tee shirt

Hanger 6: dark wash denim skirt with pockets

Hanger 7: black flowy long sleeve shirt

Hanger 8: chambray button up shirt

Hanger 9: multicolored basic flannel

Hanger 10: gray and black v-neck dress

I took the rest of my clothes to another closet in our house which I rarely go to and boxed up the contents of my entire dresser save for my sock drawer, underwear drawer, and a few workout items (I’m a fitness instructor, so workout clothes are a must even if I wasn’t also in love with exercise).

The workout items included:

1 white tank top with shelf bra

2 tee shirts: the world vision 6k race one and the insanity max 30 one

1 pair of leggings

2 paris of jogging pants: one dance studio pair to wear to dance rehearsal and over the leggings, and one pair to use for running outside

So really I guess this should be called “10-Hanger-plus-7-workout-items-and-all-my-underwear-and-shoes-Project” instead, but I was mostly focused on the majority of my wardrobe to be inaccessible  to me so that would have to be satisfied with less.

Remember, I’m the “Wannabe” Minimalist; this is not easy for me to do.

For the entire month of November, these clothes will be the only clothes I wear. Yes, it will be challenging. Yes, I will wash them.

Here are the rules:

  1. Any combo of the clothes on the hangers may be worn.
  2. I can repeat outfits, but my goal is to be creative…. still I think it might be virtually impossible to wear a different combo each day of the month and not look like a crazy person.
  3. The limited clothes do not include accessories like scarves, jewelry or belts, and do not include underwear or shoes either.
  4. Workout clothes are for only working out or teaching fitness classes in. Except the leggings; I can wear them under the skirt or the dress. But not as pants because that’s tacky.
  5. No cheating; stay strong!

I will be updating you on my outfits, my progress, and what I am learning during this whole process, because I can’t even express to you how crazy this is for me or even all of what I’m hoping God will do with me during this time.

But I hope I’ll come out on the other side of November more content with my life, more free, more selfless, and more confident in who I am.

I hope to learn to appreciate even more what truly matters in life, and I hope I am able to forget about myself and my appearance in ways I never could before.

I hope I can break free from the stronghold of greediness and vanity so that I can focus more on loving God and loving people well. 

I hope that come December, when I pull out those boxes of clothes again, that I’ll be able to cut my former wardrobe by at least half so that I can continue to carry what I learn through this month with me onto the new year. 

But who knows what I’ll learn this November?!

I’ll be sure to keep you posted with lessons, thoughts, and pictures that document my walk through this #10HangerProject. That way, we can learn together and hopefully come out less of a wannabe and more of a minimalist on the other side of this 30 days.